The connection is simple – being free from physical discomfort makes one happier and mentally at ease overall. There is never a bigger downer than the discomfort of an ear infection or the irritation of dry, itchy skin. While we addressed helping our dogs stay mentally engaged and content in our previous post, it’s important to keep up with physical health as well.
Dental health is one of the most overlooked health issues for dogs. As resilient creatures, many with dental issues will continue eating and acting normally without showing any signs of discomfort. Yet, upon proper examination at vet appointments the presence of tartar, broken, or even infected teeth requiring professional dental care are sometimes found.
Your dog’s oral hygiene is the gateway to overall health. It is estimated that more than two-thirds of dogs will have some level or periodontal disease by the age of 3. Tooth and gum disease, also known as periodontitis, occurs when food and bacteria accumulate along the gum line and turn into plaque. This not only affects your dog’s mouth, but can also carry bacteria into the blood stream, or affect organs filtering and pumping blood.
Being proactive about your dog’s dental care is the best way to prevent such issues. Regular maintenance at home can help prolong the time needed in-between regular, professional cleaning and treatment, which can be both costly and involve the need for sedation.
There are many different shapes, sizes, and styles of dog tooth brushes, all of which aim to achieve the same goal. They work to manually remove any excess food and particles before they have the opportunity to turn into plaque and tartar. The important thing is to gradually acclimate your dog to having their mouth touched and teeth brushed. Curious as to how to brush your dog’s teeth at home? Check out this blog post.
Using a dog friendly toothpaste further compliments a clean mouth. Most dog toothpastes contain scrubbing ingredients that make it easier to get rid of plaque and stains. Others are formulated with enzymes that help reduce bacteria contributing to plaque and tartar buildup, leading to better breath. It is important to note that human toothpaste should never be used in place to toothpaste made for dogs. Human toothpaste contains fluoride, and many contain xylitol, both of which are toxic to dogs.
For dogs who don’t tolerate having their teeth brushed, using a water additive is a great alternate solution. As the name suggests, it is added to your dog’s regular drinking water and acts like a mouth wash. They are formulated to reduce bacteria in the mouth and subsequently prevent plaque, tartar, and tooth decay while combatting bad breath.
With many nerve endings, a dog’s paw is among one of the most sensitive parts of their body. They are also essential to walking, running, climbing, digging, hunting, and other activities critical to a dog’s senses and survival. It’s why some dogs are sensitive to their paws being handled or touched.
Like our human hands, a dog’s paw pads can become dry and cracked from environmental stressors such as walking on snow and ice (especially when the streets are salted), or from walking on hot pavement during the warmer months. This becomes painful, and as such it is important to ensure your dog’s paw pads are properly moisturized.
A extension of their paw, dog’s nails are also a very sensitive body part. It is important to maintain your dog’s nails for many reasons. Nails that are too long can get caught on objects like carpets and rugs, and causing injury to the nail and/or toes. They also become painful when nails grow so long they touch the ground when standing, and puts pressure on the nail bed.
When this happens, dogs tend to compensate their posture to avoid the pain, and adopt an unnatural stance that puts uneven pressure on some muscles and ligaments. Over time, this may cause a strain or atrophy in the limbs, causing lameness and limitation in mobility in the long run. Additionally, it puts a dog at a higher risk of injury while walking or running due to imbalance. As such, it is extremely important to maintain a healthy nail length.
Not everyone is comfortable cutting their dog’s nails at home using a nail clipper. Clippers can take off too much at a time, which can cause pain and bleeding when the quick (or “kwik”), the blood supply and nerve that runs through the middle of the nail, is cut. A nail grinder helps shave down the nail at a slower pace, although most dogs will still require a level of desensitization as the noise and vibration can feel uncomfortable.
When not careful, cutting too much off from the nail can cause pain and bleeding. This is due to cutting the quick (also known as “kwik”), which is a vein and nerve that runs through the middle of a dog’s nail. The longer the nail, the longer the quick. However, you can recess the quick over time by frequently and consistently trimming your dog’s nails to prevent them from getting too long.
When the quick is cut, it is painful uncomfortable, and bloody for your dog. Cutting through a blood supply can may be scary as the bleeding is more prolonged than other wounds, but not to worry, there are substances available to help control and stop the blood flow, and promote faster healing.
Dogs will be dogs, and that means sometimes they come home with some nicks and scrapes from getting into a little too much adventure. Just like human scrapes, they aren’t serious or threatening, but they sting, itch, and/or are uncomfortable. Using a dog formulated wound recovery cream helps relieve discomfort, promote healing, and keep potential infection at bay.
Dogs see the world through their nose, which has a highly developed sense of smell. Scent particles in the air stick better to moist surfaces, which is why dogs often lick their own noses. Dogs also lick their own noses as it helps regulate their body temperature in warmer weather. They can also interpret smell through taste.
While dogs can usually regulate their nose’s moisture on their own, they sometimes need a little help due to age, climate, or environment (ie: having the heat running in the winter). A nose balm can help in ensuring your dog is not continually licking their dry nose to the point of soreness around the area, or dehydration.
While all dogs are prone of ear infections, dogs with floppy ears are at higher risk as their anatomy lacks adequate air flow or expulsion of foreign substances as compared to their upright eared counterparts. This is especially true for dogs who like to swim or roll around. Water and other substances get caught inside the ear, causing infection. Regular ear cleaning at home helps minimize the moisture, dirt, and excessive ear wax build up that contribute to ear infections.
There is no denying fleas and ticks are icky, and pose health risks to dogs, humans, other living beings. Being proactive about prevention is the number 1 way to protect your dog and yourself against parasite borne diseases. While there are many options available on the market, always consult with your veterinarian to decide which product is best for you based on your frequently visited areas and lifestyle.
While not a doggy health item, it certainly is healthy item of choice for the earth. With an estimated 8 million pet dogs in Canada alone, daily use of poop bags amount to billions of bags that end up in our landfills each year. We strive to choose sustainable choices and healthier habits to maintain a greener future for our shared planet.
If you would like to support a small local business, please also check out our friends at Our Haru! Our Haru is a woman owned small business based in Toronto. Located in the city’s Stackt Market or online, that specializes in top quality, 100% Korean made and branded pet products.
Some of our favorite items include (from left to right):
Sweet Potato Toothpaste: Formulated with natural, Environmental Working Group (EWG) grade ingredients with increased taste preference.
Pet Paw Butter: Moisturizes and soothes irritated skin while protecting and strengthening the skin’s barrier from hot pavement or icy conditions using pet safe ingredients for those who like to lick!
Pet Ear Wash: Gentle and safe hydrosol ear wash formulated with natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Pet Paw Multi Balm: moisturizers and recovers rough, dry, itchy or damaged paw pads. Unscented and safe for use on cats too!
Simple small habits at home can go a long way in promoting both mental and physical wellbeing. It also saves you costly vet bills in the long run. However, developing these habits takes time for your dog to get used to. Remember to take things slow and build and positive associations overtime, because inducing stress is not a healthy habit either!
Be sure to check out our full list of health and wellness products, as recommended and loved by members of our community.
***Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links from Amazon through the Amazon Associates program. While FKD earns a small commission when a qualifying purchase is made through these links, we are not affiliated with the brands mentioned. All opinions are our own. We do not receive any compensation or commission from Our Haru.
This blog post provides general information about pet health based on the experience and best practices of our community. The information provided in this blog should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. If your dog has a medical concern, please consult with your vet.